Food and Nutrition

How to Reap the Benefits of Garlic Without Crying About It

Mercey Livingston

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On the list of pungent-yet-healthy foods (apple cider vinegar shots, onions, tuna) raw garlic may just top the list. Besides the obvious concerns (can you say garlic breath and B.O.?), it’s not exactly one you often hear about being good for you. But it turns out, not only is are there benefits of raw garlic, but the best way to reap the rewards is by eating it raw.

Ariana Lutzi, ND, naturopath and nutrition consultant for Bubs Naturals says garlic is one of the most accessible healthy foods to eat. “Garlic is packed full of nutrients and adds intense flavor to any dish. It’s the most potent when used in its raw form,” she says.

Besides delivering a nutritional boost, Lutzi says the benefits of raw garlic include kicking nasty infections, too. “Garlic fights all types of infections—fungal, bacterial, parasitic, and viral—regulates blood sugar, lowers blood pressure, and lowers cholesterol, to name a few.” Who knew all of these benefits could be packed inside such a small (and smelly) herb?

Keep reading to find out more on the health benefits of raw garlic, plus tips on how to use it to reap all the benefits.

Health benefits of raw garlic
Photo: Stocksy/Melanie Riccardi

Health benefits of raw garlic

Alejandro Junger, MD, founder of the Clean Program, a 30-day cleanse program that celebs like Meghan Markle and Gwyneth Paltrow are a fan of, encourages people to eat a clove of raw garlic per day while on the cleanse. Junger writes in his book Clean, that raw garlic “will help not only to eliminate bad bacteria, yeast, and parasites, but also to regulate blood sugar levels, enhance fat burning, reduce hunger sensations, lower cholesterol, relieve arthritic pain, and reduce bowel gas.”

Here are some other health benefits of the veggie, amplified when raw as cooking dulls some of its nutrient-density:

1. A nutrient powerhouse: One benefit of raw garlic is that its fill of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, manganese, selenium, vitamin c, iron, potassium, and copper. This powerhouse combination is especially good for cognitive function: Vitamin B6 and magnesium are both linked to boosting mood and improving brain health.

2. It supports a healthy immune system. You have the vitamin C in raw garlic to thank for this one. For a more savory immunity booster than oranges, incorporate some raw garlic into your meals.

3. It’s anti-inflammatory: Garlic contains allyl sulfides, an anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting compound that studies have shown to slow the growth rate of cancer cells. Because it’s anti-inflammatory, this means it also helps protect the body from free radicals.

4. It’s good for your liver: Studies have shown that it can protect the liver from some toxins, and help lower blood sugar levels. This helps your body flush out toxins more efficiently, which benefits the entire body overall.

Watch the video below to learn more benefits of raw garlic:

Side effects

Eating raw garlic is not as easy at it sounds, FYI. For starters, it can be super intense and even cause a burning sensation once you start chewing it. And Lutzi says other potential side effects include “gastrointestinal burning or irritation, heartburn, flatulence, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.” Um, yikes. “It can produce changes in intestinal flora,” she adds.

People taking certain medications should proceed with caution since raw garlic can potentially react with some drugs including anticoagulants, antiplatelet, hypoglycemic, and insulin. If you’re on other meds it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor before incorporating any kind of supplement or herb (like raw garlic) into your diet, FYI.

All of this is to say, experiment with your raw garlic intake. Go small and if it seems to agree with your body, awesome. If not: this veggie just isn’t for you—and that’s okay. Since the potential side effects of eating raw garlic sound less than ideal, there are (thankfully) lots of different ways you can get all of the benefits of eating raw garlic, without well, having to chew an actual clove of garlic, detailed next.

Usage ideas

One way to make raw garlic go down a bit easier is to slice the clove into thin slices and sandwich them between apple slices, as Dr. Junger suggests in Clean. The apple will help cover up the pungent flavor, and mixing the garlic with another food will make the whole experience a lot more tolerable. According to Lutzi, you can try cutting the clove into four small pieces and swallowing whole like a pill to avoid the pungent effect from chewing it.

Some other ideas for eating raw garlic include:

  • Mince a garlic clove and toss into your salad or salad dressing
  • Make garlic toast, like this blogger, by mincing the raw garlic, and then mix with some ghee or butter, and spread on toast
  • Make a ACV garlic tonic (see recipe below)
  • Add to soups or juice with other veggies

If you really hate the taste but want to reap the benefits of raw garlic, there are garlic extract supplements available, including ones that are odorless.

Dr. Lutzi’s Healthy Healing Herbal Tonic

1. Roughly chop multiple cloves of garlic and add to small mason jar.

2. Fill at least one-fourth of the jar full of chopped garlic. Next, pour in equal parts honey and apple cider vinegar, enough to cover the garlic.

3. Let this mixture sit in a dark pantry or cupboard for at least a week, shaking daily.

4. After a week, strain out the garlic or leave in for a more robust concoction. Take one tablespoon daily for immune defense throughout cold and flu season.

Originally published October 6, 2018. Updated January 10, 2020.

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